Pursuit vs ex-DBM official, others tagged in Pharmally controversy suspended amid COVID-19 surge

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 18 2022 08:06 PM

MANILA — The pursuit against former budget Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao and other personalities tagged in the Pharmally controversy has been suspended amid the surge of COVID-19 cases, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said. 

Sotto said the chase against them will have to wait as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee continues its probe against the firm. 

This also aims to prevent members of the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) from catching the virus or spreading it, as many of them are already in isolation or under quarantine due to exposure. 

"Marami sa OSAA ang under quarantine ngayon eh. It's just a postponement... hindi natin pwede pilitin baka sila pa ang maging spreader," Sotto explained. 

Lao has skipped the most recent Blue Ribbon Committee hearings. 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson had said the former undersecretary is not covered by President Rodrigo Duterte’s order that bars government officials in the executive branch from appearing at the Senate hearings.

The Senate earlier found out that Lao was in charge of handling some P42 billion in funds that the Department of Health (DOH) transferred to the Department of Budget and Management's procurement service (PS-DBM) without proper documentation.

The Blue Ribbon Committee has also issued subpoenas for some of former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang's business associates due to their alleged ties to Pharmally. 

The panel is also seeking the girlfriend of Pharmally corporate secretary and treasurer Mohit Dargani, a certain Sophia Custodio, who supposedly created a company that helped Pharmally sell face shields for nearly P38 million.

Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairperson Richard Gordon last month said they are wrapping up the 5-month long investigation against Pharmally.

 — With reports from Robert Mano, ABS-CBN News

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